Q: I am new to contemplative prayer. I have been meditating for 15 years, but have decided to take contemplative prayer as my spiritual path as it suits me better (I was brought up as a Roman Catholic, so there is a sense of familiarity; and also I am a student of Ken Wilber, so I find this spiritual practice to be integral and aligned with my current level of awareness). My question is to do with a spiritual teacher or guide. While a person like this is needed in Eastern spiritual practices, is it also needed in contemplative prayer? I currently live in Greece, and from what I notice most of retreats and opportunities to meet teachers and others in this community are in USA.
A: Spiritual direction is needed at times in conjunction with Centering Prayer/contemplative prayer. It is dependent upon the individual and the particular experience they are having on the spiritual journey. It also depends on one’s support systems – availability of a prayer group, church or spiritual community, etc, - as well as spiritual maturity. It seems after a while, one learns to wait on God with patience and ride things out without having to talk about it or check-in with others.
We have many ways of being connected and supported on the journey. Our series of live and self-guided online courses, (the live versions include a community forum with people from all over the world), have proven to be very sustaining for many. You can read more about them here.
Sr. Fionnuala Quinn is our international contact. You may wish to contact her, especially in regard to programs in Ireland and England or perhaps other places closer to you.
Thank you for taking seriously your gift of faith and the joy of the journey.